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Reconstructing the Middle Ages: Gaston Paris and the Development of Nineteenth-Century Medievalism
By Isabel DiVanna
Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008
Reconstructing the Middle Ages looks at nineteenth-century medievalism in France using as a case study Gaston Paris, philologist, literary critic and professor of medieval studies. Gaston Paris’s method, traditionally seen as a combination of romanticism and positivism, exemplifies several elements of nineteenth-century medievalism in the Parisian academia in late nineteenth-century France. The text investigates Gaston Paris’s theories about three medieval literary genres (epic, fabliaux, and Arthurian tales) to understand how Paris’s view of medieval literature and history cross-related with nationalism at a time when France was particularly vulnerable, and at which French academics were especially eager to make a long-lasting contribution. Examining the work of Gaston Paris and his interaction with other scholars in the Parisian milieu, Reconstructing the Middle Ages offers a look at academic medievalism and the history philology, linguistics and literary and textual criticism in late nineteenth-century France. In particular, the book shows that when it comes to the self-image of France, medievalism was a topic that reached far beyond the walls of academia as it was related to national pride, memory and identity.